We are coming up to the end of the second year of the Royal College of General Practitioners and Crohn’s & Colitis UK’s Spotlight Project for Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD); Jackie Glatter, Health Service Development Manager at Crohn's & Colitis UK, reflects upon what we have achieved so far.
In 2017-18 the aim of the project was to improve the detection and diagnosis of IBD and to support primary care clinicians to treat, manage and refer patients with Crohn’s and Colitis. In 2018-19 the focus shifted to flare management and how GPs can support their patients to manage their condition long-term. This focus will continue as we move into our third year.
We have created the IBD toolkit which was produced to help GPs improve their understanding of Crohn’s and Colitis, and provide guidance on supporting patients to stay well whilst monitoring long-term risks.
Within this toolkit, you can find two podcasts we recorded with Dr Kevin Barrett, our Clinical Champion. In one we see the patient’s perspective from Rachel Fowler, who also sits on the project’s steering group and in the other, Kevin speaks to IBD Clinical Nurse Specialist, Vanessa Cambridge.
Our 30-minute eLearning module enables primary care health professionals to update their knowledge about Crohn’s and Colitis and earn CPD points.
Inspiring regional champions
Our Regional Clinical Champions have been flying the flag for the project, delivering talks, networking with both primary and secondary care colleagues to help speed up diagnosis and improve the support that primary care health professionals can give to their Crohn’s and Colitis patients.
The Clinical Champions have had a busy year, placing articles in medical and regional press, reaching countless new primary GPs with training opportunities, and in some cases working with the Crohn’s & Colitis UK Local Network Volunteers to have the most impact.
This demonstrates great progress in a short period of time, thanks to a strong partnership between the RCGP and Crohn’s & Colitis UK and our dedicated and inspiring Clinical Champions.
In a recent survey we asked people with Crohn’s and Colitis what is important to them whilst in a flare. This revealed the need to be listened to and taken seriously as key themes. Alongside this, quick access to support, appointments and treatment were considered vital, alongside joined-up care and follow-up.
Yet, we know from the GP survey completed at the start of this project that GPs can lack confidence in managing flaring patients, with 52% less than confident or not confident if a patient visits their clinic with a flare-up. Meanwhile, patients can find it difficult to access specialists quickly.
Improving patient experience
This need has led us to our next focus: to create a nationally-approved flare pathway, designed to better the patient’s experience and give primary care health professionals the tools to follow a clear route.
Designed as a single page easy to follow card, one for Crohn’s and one for Colitis, this will also be added in digital form to the IBD toolkit soon as another readily available resource.
Within the survey, self-management was also found to be important for flaring patients and as such we want to give people the autonomy to understand what to do when experiencing a change in their Crohn’s and Colitis symptoms.
In Scotland we’ve partnered the Scottish Government Modern Outpatient Programme to create a patient flare-card which outlines straightforward steps for people to follow and be aware of during a suspected flare.
As well as the newly designed flare pathway and flare card, we’ll also be making updates to the toolkit. We want this to be visual and engaging for GPs and so are planning some exciting design work, including shareable infographics.
Tremendous headway has been made in the RCGP and Crohn’s & Colitis UK Spotlight Project and we are excited about what is still to come and the improvements that we can continue to make working together.